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Healthcare Assignment: Benefits & Risks of Social Media in Medical Management



Write a detailed healthcare assignment critically discussing the benefits and risks associated with the utilization of social media platforms in contemporary healthcare.


It is evident in the healthcare assignment that as technology has improved communication medium also has changed accordingly and presently, communicating with the help of social media platform is the efficient way of communication and the tools used in social media communication is to exchange information among individuals and communities to share knowledge, images, information, and various other health related materials. Interest of people in social media has expanded over the years as technology upgraded. It is being famous among the different age groups and professions (Lin & Kishore, 2021). Facebook, which is one of the social media sites, has crossed the one billion users which is said to be the one-seventh part of the total population of the world. Social media has linked to highly significant health care events, debates, policies, behaviours, educational events which is being joined by many viewers and plays a vital role in interacting comfortably with the patients, caregivers, student, colleagues, etc. Nowadays, Social media platform is the best way for the healthcare professionals to promote and make awareness related to any health services or to make people aware of any kind of emergency related to healthcare for which social media is the best way to promote contemporary healthcare (Alanzi & Al-Habib, 2020). In contemporary healthcare, experts can make use of micro blogs, wikis, blogs, virtual reality, simulators to practice patient care, etc. which is also different types of social media platforms used by professionals. These instruments are utilized by the expert to improve instruction setting, consideration of patients, educating the patient related to illness, general wellbeing programs, and so on.

There is a significant danger in the utilization of web-based media platforms as numerous watchers or followers have lack of good education for which there can be a breach in security such as professional image damage, privacy associated with the patient can be hampered, violation of the professional boundaries, and many other licensing and legal issues. Many healthcare guidelines have passed the use of social media platforms and also generated certain security measures in order to prevent the risks. The study will focus on the risks and benefits of utilizing social media in healthcare. The healthcare assignment also focuses on the various professional guidelines to maintain the safety and security of the patient’s information while utilizing social media platform for spreading awareness.


Different social media platforms
There is multiple numbers of web based media platforms prevalent on social platforms. Few are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. These platforms play a vital role in enhancing the public health care system across the country. As far as the U.S. is being concerned, it has seen an increase in social media posts related to healthcare from 8% to 72% in a very short period of time (Surani et al., 2017). Facebook has near and more than a billion active users which is nonetheless one-seventh part of the total population of the world. Another social site is Twitter, which has more than a ton million, active users, across the world and usually spends more than 65 million tweets each passing day. Another social site famous nowadays could be YouTube which is not far behind with nearly two billion viewers and who videos every day related to healthcare.

Professionals using social media platform

Healthcare Professionals
Healthcare professionals nowadays get active on these social media platforms to develop a network or professionals or motivating patients and increase public awareness of news related to healthcare (De Martino et al., 2017). Physicians also are being benefitted from social media from reading news articles, listening to experts, researchers in the medical departments, consulting the issues or illness of the patients, marketing practices, the challenges faced during the treatment, and many more. According to the surveys being conducted of the physicians, it has been found out that 90% of them use the social media platform for their personal tasks and only 65% of them are using the same at the professional front. This describes that a person, doing professional usage of social media, is increasing day-by-day not only in the medical field but, in every field.

As far as pharmacists are concerned, they are relatively seen lesser at social media if seen, from a personal point of view. They are much more active on social media to promote pharmacist-specific products (Pershad et al., 2018). According to a survey, it has been found out that around 90 pages on Facebook are related to pharmacist interests. Examples of these pages could be Cynical Pharmacist, the American Pharmacists Association, etc. They are not much seen on the Twitter platform and found out that only 10% of the pharmacists are using the Twitter platform and just three lakhs’ profiles are visible on LinkedIn.

Professional guidelines of using social media
The American College of Physicists and the Federation of State Medical Boards released recommendations for online medical professionalism in 2013 following the regulation of the AMA in relation to the technical use of social media in 2010 and made clear statements that guidelines must be followed which are as follows.

  • Only doctors, who have a proper relationship with the patients, can send email or other electronic medium and that to should be done based on the patient’s permission (Pershad et al., 2018). The patient's medical record that is provided should also consist of the communication details between the patient and doctor and should be properly noted.
  • Doctors should consider regular self-auditing to evaluate the quality of available details on doctors' websites and other online outlets.
  • Web messages and social media messages must be widely accessible in a secured manner such that it does not violate the privacy of the patients. Doctors, trainees and medical students should be mindful of the potential possible consequences of online posts about their work.
  • Using on-line media can provide patients and doctors with major educational opportunities, but can also create ethical problems. Maintaining trust in the practise between patient and physician relations requires physicians to apply professional standards faithfully in protecting information of the patient in the internet environments and secure communications relationships, security, anonymity and dignity for individuals.

Risks of using Social Media in healthcare
The risks associated with the social media platforms in respect of the health care system include Social, Legal and Ethical issues such as follows.

Social Issues
The social issues include the poor quality of information that is prevalent on social media and other media platforms. These resources lack the reliability and quality of information shared. Improper sharing of information of patients and about the disease might lead to situation in which the patient might be segregated from the society as the society might think it is against the culture. Say for example, a person suffering from HIV and any health professional taking the example of that patient to spread awareness in the social media platform might lead to negative consequences as many people in the society believes that HIV spreads via touching or by talking to a contaminated person. This will lead to a bad situation for the patient to live in the society. Many are the information that is being provided is not genuine and recommended by the physicians. The sources even lack references, completion, and any kind of formality. The feature of uploading health-related content on social media could be prone to unfavourable activities because certain information related to health should be kept in between the physician and the patients only and not released online.

Legal issues
Leaking out private information of patients leads to legal issues as it harms the image of the patient. The patient might suffer from mental stress or might suffer severe psychological disorders due to the bullying the patient has to face due to the leakage of information. The patient information is the duty of the hospital and healthcare professionals to keep it confidential and safe. Leaking out of information leads to the violation of various Acts like HIPAA and other WHO published policies which might lead to the termination of the license of the hospital or the health professional (Nawaz et al., 2018). Even the reputation of the hospital will be at stake due to violation. Disclosure of the health information by the physicians and the hospital is treated as a crime, according to the Health information technology for economic and clinical health act. According to Section 13419(d) that addressed the civil and criminal penalties for the violation and giving harm to the medical laws and policies. Leaking and uploading the patient confidential report, could bring about serious action against the association and its representatives. Communication between HCP and the patient could be found genuine on an email basis, by safeguarding the laws.

Political Issues
The political issues could be damaging to a professional image. Posting unprofessional content on social media would be treated as unfavourable against the health care experts. The behaviour by the professional which could be treated as violating the patient's privacy, values or using filthy language, exposing images intoxication or sexual related content, or the demoralizing comments about the patients could be called illegal (Roundtree, 2018). These types of public missteps taken by the health care professional include the physician taking digital photographs during the surgery, posting with alcohol and weapons; posting harmful tweets and comments that if documented then could be harmful to the profession, and the image of the expert.

Ethical Issues and limitations in using social media platform
Social media platforms are mainly used by the professional to spread awareness regarding any kind of crisis period or regarding any kind of new invention related to treatment are being published such people can get aware of the recent trends. There are many occasions when doctors or professional make use of information that is being published by other authors and states those materials as personal without giving the original publisher the credit which is unethical way of publishing someone else work (Nawaz et al., 2018). Similarly, many a times doctors publish post regarding any disease like cancer to spread awareness among people not to smoke to avoid cancer. In the process the original information of any patient suffering from cancer as example are being published which is unethical and harms the image of the patient and the patient might face various types of bullying.

Benefits of Social Media
The benefits associated with social media are as follows.

Support Networks
Implementing social media in the healthcare field is providing support to the patient as well as the professionals. The support network can be defined as the support or ease to access the health benefits by the patient's family and by the patients. This helps support workers, health professionals and patient remain in contact to provide and receive the correct treatment. In order to prevent the rush at the hospital, the online facility of providing the health reports has been incorporated recently (Coppersmith et al., 2018). The consultation facility with the doctors can be availed by the patients, by just sitting idle at their homes, and many other are support networks been provided by social media to the healthcare field.

Professional Nursing
Social media can be even used by the nurses to interact with the patients and offer them healthcare services (Zhou et al., 2018). With social media, it becomes easier for the patients and the nurses to provide healthcare education and medical education to the respective ones. Virtual seminars, webinars, health reports, progress reports could be provided to the patients for their comfort ability. It is the prime duty of the nurses only to take care of the patients, provide them health information, and provide accurate education of the illness. Nurses could educate the patients about the webinars conducted in and about the premises and can help them to join the respective. Nurses can use Facebook for the medical reminders, messages and alerts could be provided to the patients by the nurses from time to time by social media.

Patient Outcome
Another advantage of using social media is to generate better patient outcome by giving the right medicine or prescribing the right treatment via online to get better patient outcome (Markham et al., 2017). The messages and alerts from the patients would be considered as early as according to the traditional way of treatment. Online social media provides an access to listen to the health care professionals and to the patients to ask their doubts and problems with much ease. An online seminar conducted by the doctors for their patients would be beneficial for their patients.

In the present context, communication is referred to the communication between the patient and the professional agent in order to know about the health condition. Effective communication plays a crucial role in the overall betterment of the patient. The social interaction on the basis of difficulties being faced by the patient and an instant medication facility from the doctor finds to be more beneficial in this respect. Many of the tutors, use the YouTube platform to educate the students, similarly, physicians go online, makes videos for their patients to which their patients respond effectively. Frequent and responsive activities give frequent and responsive results.

With the study being conducted and keeping many positive and negative points in mind, it has been found out that when these social media sites and platforms are used wisely and prudently, it will be beneficial for enhancing the health of an individual and public but if not, it is a sin to the mankind. When this social media is not kept carefully or used efficiently, then it leads to never-ending chaos and danger. Science has gifted us the technology of social media, which is made with the good intention of development and should be used respectively. If used otherwise, then, these technologies could be called a problem to humans. Many guidelines and regulations are being issued by health care organizations around the globe for health care professionals and societies, so these must be followed effectively to avoid the pitfalls in the profession and in order to protect the image and trust of mankind.

Alanzi, T., & Al-Habib, D. K. (2020). The use of social media by healthcare quality personnel in Saudi Arabia. Journal of environmental and public health, 2020.

Coppersmith, G., Leary, R., Crutchley, P., & Fine, A. (2018). Natural language processing of social media as screening for suicide risk. Biomedical informatics insights, 10, 1178222618792860.

De Martino, I., D’Apolito, R., McLawhorn, A. S., Fehring, K. A., Sculco, P. K., & Gasparini, G. (2017). Social media for patients: benefits and drawbacks. Current reviews in musculoskeletal medicine, 10(1), 141-145.

Lin, X., & Kishore, R. (2021). Social media-enabled healthcare: A conceptual model of social media affordances, online social support, and health behaviors and outcomes. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 166, 120574.

Markham, M. J., Gentile, D., & Graham, D. L. (2017). Social media for networking, professional development, and patient engagement. American Society of Clinical Oncology Educational Book, 37, 782-787.

Nawaz, M. S., Mustafa, R. U., & Lali, M. I. U. (2018). Role of online data from search engine and social media in healthcare informatics. Healthcare assignment In Applying Big Data Analytics in Bioinformatics and Medicine (pp. 272-293). IGI Global.

Pershad, Y., Hangge, P. T., Albadawi, H., & Oklu, R. (2018). Social medicine: Twitter in healthcare. Journal of clinical medicine, 7(6), 121.

Roundtree, A. K. (2018). Dialogic of Social Media in Healthcare Settings: Text Mining the Rules, Attitudes, and Behaviors of Health Organizations and the Public. American Communication Journal, 20(1).

Surani, Z., Hirani, R., Elias, A., Quisenberry, L., Varon, J., Surani, S., & Surani, S. (2017). Social media usage among health care providers. BMC research notes, 10(1), 1-5.

Zhou, L., Zhang, D., Yang, C. C., & Wang, Y. (2018). Harnessing social media for health information management. Electronic commerce research and applications, 27, 139-151.


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